We’re changing up our Saturdays here on Beneath the Crust. Instead of just this & that each week, we’ll rotate through a few different series: Recipe Roundup, Looks We Like, This & That, and Mixed Media. We figure this way we can incorporate a broader range of interests and material.
Mixed Media simply came from us constantly sharing with each other books, podcasts, music, shows, and movies we’ve enjoyed (or not). We figured we might as well share it all with you as well! Our idea is to simply have a list of short blurbs about whatever has piqued our interest during the month; maybe you’ll find something of interest, too!
We acknowledge that tastes and sensitivities vary widely so please use your own discretion in taking our recommendations! We will try to note when there is the possibility of sensitive or possibly offensive content.
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. “I read this recently for a book club. The writing was excellent, and I loved reading the book, maybe more than the book itself, if that makes any sense. The author describes her experiences and perceptions of childhood so accurately and so well that I was thrilled by being constantly reminded of my own life as a child. I read the whole book saying to myself, “Yes! That’s how it was!”. The book gives rise to a lot of really interesting reflections on experience and memory. It may not be the kind of book you read through in one sitting, but you pick it up here and there and get satisfied by rewarding glimpses and insights into the life of the observant mind.” - Maria
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. “A fairly easy read, short and enjoyable. The movie version is among my favorites (another fantastic performance from Anthony Hopkins), so I couldn't help but compare. This is a case in which each holds its own. In the movie the main character is never cracked, so to speak, except maybe in one scene towards the end. The book is written in first person but still the main character maintains his distance. The final effect is the same in both: a shell of identity, missed opportunities, and a movement towards change that comes too late.” -Sophie
I picked up a book at a neighbor’s moving sale. By no means a great work of literature, The Professor and the Madman tells the fantastical but true tale of a “madman’s” role in the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that one man contributed over 10,000 definitions. When a committee insisted on celebrating him, it came out that the recluse was a resident of an insane asylum. Crazy, right?! One thing I found frustrating about the book was the hybrid between fiction and fact, and the sprinkling of quotations lacking citation. What I really enjoyed was the chance to learn more about the compiling of the OED itself. There’s a great little history of dictionary-making in chapter 4. I particularly loved the moment of realizing that something we all take for granted was, in fact, at some point, man’s invention. There was a time before any dictionaries existed. Someone had to come up with the idea of a dictionary! -Sarah
The Good Place on Netflix. “First of all, it’s 20 minutes - perfect for those of us that can’t seem to keep our eyes open for much longer than that. Secondly, it’s immensely entertaining while still being “smart”. The actors are all likeable and the plot is amusing… Michael Schur is just good at funny shows.” -Maria
King Lear on Amazon. “Amazon recently released BBC's King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, and more. If you know anything about King Lear, you know it is difficult. This is no exception. There are truly horrific scenes (notably the blinding of Gloucester) on top of being emotionally exhausting throughout. It is an intense confrontation of the problem of evil, most especially its irrationality and disproportion. Justice is served at the end, but a lingering dissatisfaction forces you to mull over the play, sieving out the gold.
As for this specific production, the stars don't disappoint. I especially loved Florence Pugh's performance of Cordelia, and Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins are spectacular, no surprise. The production makes the most of the strengths of film, highlighting and savoring subtle facial expressions and physical cues. There is noticeable cutting down of the text which allows a vigorous pace during the first half without a loss of meaning. The second half, however, begins to drag, and the plot becomes difficult to keep track of. Granted, this is true to some extent in the play itself.
Overall, a good addition to the interpretations of King Lear, but not for the faint of heart. And, I think I am officially done with watching King Lear for at least a decade. It is too hard. “ -Sophie